Dear Susan: The Men Tell An Entirely Different Story

Who cares about the rest of the guys? This post is dedicated to the beautiful sunflower that is Ben Z.

Who cares about the rest of the guys? This post is dedicated to the beautiful sunflower that is Ben Z.

Dear Susan,

Last night, The Bachelorette, men “told all”. I know I’ve complained ad nauseam about how awful this season has been, but last night proved it for me. Some of the contestants came back and instead of being the caricatures that they were while vying for Kaitlyn’s love, they were down-to-earth, sweet, generous and extremely likable. Jared even shaved his gross spotty beard. If they had been allowed to show some actual gumption and passion on the show (outside of the slurping that Nick does), I may have actually been interested in watching a few of them fall for Kaitlyn. As it stands, the show did a good job of making them all seem bland and mechanical until tonight. Continue reading

I’m Saying “Adios” to American Idol for Good

Steven's default is pervy, J.Lo always looks so concerned, and Randy doesn't seem to understand that it's not cool to refer to people as "dawgs" anymore.

I haven’t watched a single episode of American Idol this season.  Blame it on singing competition fatigue, blame it on the fact that American Idol contestants have no one challenging their belief that they are good singers.  But me, I’m blaming it on the fact that every one of the contestants I have seen sound exactly the same.  I told myself I would watch the top 24 this week and see if any of the contestants sparked anything in me, but after watching the boys on Tuesday I couldn’t bring myself to get through one of the girls on Wednesday (although, on the advice of Dave Holmes at Vulture I did check out Jessica Sanchez and while she was not terrible, if that’s the only talent he chose to highlight with a video in the top 24, it doesn’t bode well for this season).  In general, I just felt that all of the guys were totally bland.  On top of that, the judges added absolutely nothing to the conversation.  They barely said words.  I am embarrassed for everyone involved with the show at this point.

I think I just believe Adam, Cee-Lo, Christina and Blake more. What they say is usually interesting and at the very least I know that they're not judging on looks during the first round. The same can't be said of Idol's first auditions.

Especially because I have been watching The Voice on NBC and it appears to be the exact opposite of American Idol.  It is built on actual singing talent and judges who seem to have something at stake as well.  I don’t know what the age cut-off is on The Voice, but there are few, if any, young teens vying for a spot on the show which makes for far more interesting contestants.  The contestants on The Voice appear to have actually lived lives and bring that experience to their performances.  On top of that, the judges actually have authentic personalities and aren’t afraid to spar with one another and rib each other which is far more entertaining than just fawning all over the contestants.  No, they don’t give cutting remarks to the singers they don’t turn their chairs for, but that’s not entertaining to me so I don’t miss it at all.  My one complaint is that sometimes this show can focus too much on the judges’ themselves.  I’m not the hugest fan of when they perform together because I think it pulls focus from the goal of the show, but I will admit that I like their collaborations with their teams.  Plus the coaching portion actually feels like coaching and not like they’re trying to change their contestants entirely.  Bottom line: the talent is more interesting and diverse and the judges are more entertaining on The Voice.  So I’m saying “adios” to American Idol.

Network Pilot Possibilities: What looks good

I am not such an insider that I get to preview pilots or scripts before a show gets picked up by a network.  I, like the rest of the TV watching world, have to wait until upfronts in May to learn which new shows are being produced and wait until the fall season premieres to actually see those shows.  The people at Vulture/New York Magazine are not so unlucky and have done a slide show of some of the most promising pilots. After reading through their list, I’m not as sad about the prospect of having to lose shows that I love (bubble shows like Chuck and Better With You) in order to make room for them.  Here are the eight shows I’m most excited about from this list and the reason’s why the networks won’t pick them up.

Please note: this analysis is based purely on what I read in the linked Vulture slideshow and my personal opinions.  I have not seen anything else about any of these shows. Continue reading

Netflix enters into the TV making business

News that Netflix is going to produce a new show based on the UK miniseries House Of Cards starring Kevin Spacey hit the web a few days ago and I haven’t been able to get the announcement out of my head.  This is huge news for a couple of reasons: First of all, this is the first time that a full series is going to be produced and air solely on the internet (rather than a web series which typically has episodes that are much shorter than their network counterparts).  Secondly, Netflix ordered 2 full seasons (26 episodes) up front, showing that they have a lot of confidence not only in the series but in the proposition of series television being successful on the internet (although can this show be called “television” if it’s only going to air on the internet?).

I like that Netflix is entering into the world of TV (“short form programming?”) production because I love this type of entertainment medium and anything that continues its production is a good thing in my opinion.  I also like that they are buying 26 episodes right off the bat.  It makes me a little more excited about getting involved with House Of Cards, knowing that it’s not going to disappear after only a couple of episodes.  It’s almost like Netflix is positioning itself as a new pay-cable channel (like HBO or Showtime).  I am also a little weary about what it means for traditional television programming and production, but those repercussions won’t be felt for a long time and maybe this news will force traditional television networks to learn how to use the internet to their advantage sooner rather than later.  Are all the networks going to be clamoring to make internet-only programming?  Probably not.  But will they sit up and pay attention?  Most definitely.  Change is hard, but it’s always a good thing in my opinion.  [Vulture]

I LIKE it TV News of the Day

Santana (Naya Rivera), Holly (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Brittany (Heather Morris) pay homage to Fleetwood Mac.

According to Vulture, Ryan Murphy announced at last night’s Glee Paley Fest panel that next season one episode will be filled with songs from Fleetwood Mac’s album, Rumours.  I LIKE IT!  Rumours is definitely one of those albums that must be listened to in its entirety to really appreciate what it has to offer.  With songs like “Dreams”, “Don’t Stop”, “You Make Loving Fun” and “Gold Dust Woman”, it is a total powerhouse album from start to finish and if the Holly/Santana/Brittany version of “Landslides” is any indication, I think the kids from Glee can have a whole lot of fun with it.  Rumours is notorious for having been written during a period of high drama within Fleetwood Mac (lots of breaking up, making up and cheating is what I’ve heard) which makes me curious about what context it will be used in on Glee.  No doubt these kids have had their share of drama, but I hope that it goes cuckoo-bananas when they use this album!  The question is, who will sing what song?  Regardless, I love it when Glee dips into the vast musical library and chooses stuff that might not be top 40; those choices are far more interesting to me.  Good going Glee!

Ken Burns Gives Great Quote

The "Real" Housewives of New Jersey

Ken Burns, the great historical documentarian, spoke to The Kansas City Star about the reality TV trend and New York Magazine’s Vulture blog broke down his quote into something succinct and brilliant.

“The notion that this is reality is beyond the pale. What it does is just become a vehicle for the same shallow consumerist mentality that is driving our country into the dirt… What I reject is the idea that this has any intrinsic value whatsoever other than voyeurism… What are we in the service of in these shows? Are we wanting to illuminate the plight of migrant workers in California, as “Harvest of Shame” did? Or do you wish to know the bust size of Khloe Kardashian? Do you need to watch another year of one pretty thing trying to choose among a bunch of other pretty things, becoming excuses to elevate people to stature that they don’t deserve? This is a world where we’re involved in two wars. the greatest recession since the Great Depression and a country polarized by race, by geography, by politics….and yet, this is what animates our lives. And things are much more serious.”

He’s clearly not a fan.  And to tell you the truth, I’m not a huge reality fan either, at least not of the docu-soap style of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” or “The Real Housewives of (Wherever)”.

I like the reality competition shows like “The Amazing Race” and “Top Chef” because at least they’re asking their contestants to do more than just exist.  They take the concept of reality television – which is non-actors in manipulated situations – to heart and then reward them for their troubles.  My problem with the docu-soap series is that they ask us to elevate “normal” people to celebrity status and then watch them whine about it.